Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service: Causes of concern revisit letter

Published on: 20 January 2023

Letter information

HMI Wendy Williams CBE
His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
His Majesty’s Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services

Ben Brook
Chief Fire Officer
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service

Councillor Andy Crump
Chair of Fire Authority

Sent on
20 January 2023


In March and April 2021, we inspected Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service. During that inspection, we identified three causes of concern that we shared with you and made the following recommendations:

Cause of concern

The service hasn’t done enough since the last inspection to develop prevention activity that prioritises those most at risk of fire.


By 31 August 2021, the service should:

  • develop a clear prevention strategy that prioritises the people most at risk and make sure that work to reduce risk is proportionate;
  • put in place an effective system for joint reviews after significant or fatal incidents. Reviews should be at an appropriate strategic level for the service and organisations the service works with; and
  • review its systems and processes for dealing with referrals from organisations the service works with to make sure they are managed in accordance with risk.

Cause of concern

The service hasn’t done enough since the last inspection to identify its highest-risk premises to inform its risk-based inspection programme.


By 31 August 2021, the service should:

  • develop a protection strategy with a resourced and prioritised risk-based inspection programme;
  • review its risk-based inspection programme to make sure it identifies its highest-risk premises; and
  • put in place a clear plan with timescales for improving its management of information.

Cause of concern

The service isn’t taking a proportionate approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace.


By 31 August 2021, the service should make sure that:

  • its actions to promote EDI don’t compromise the integrity of other policies, including health and safety, and performance management;
  • senior leaders respond appropriately and quickly to EDI feedback or concerns from its staff;
  • its approach to positive actionis appropriate and proportionate, and is understood by staff; and
  • it understands the diversity of its workforce and has the right provisions in place to support their individual needs.

You submitted an action plan setting out how you would address the areas of concern and the recommendations.

In February 2022, we revisited Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service to review progress against the action plan. On 22 April 2022, we wrote to you with our findings and informed you that we would revisit to further review your progress in autumn 2022.

Between 15 and 16 November 2022, we revisited and interviewed staff based at stations and headquarters. We also interviewed managers and staff with responsibility for protection and EDI, as well as colleagues from their teams. We concluded by interviewing you as chief fire officer, and shared our initial findings on 25 November 2022. This letter provides an update on our findings.


We found that the service had continued to maintain the governance arrangements put in place to monitor progress with the action plan, particularly in relation to the causes of concern. We considered that these arrangements, described in our letter of 22 April 2022, were sufficient in our first revisit.

Action plan

The service has an action plan covering the causes of concern, described in our letter of 22 April 2022. We have found that, since then, it has developed a business plan for all parts of the service. This plan incorporates the causes of concern and helps the service to track progress made on them.

Since our last revisit the service has also consulted on and published its strategy for prevention, protection and response. The service delivers its strategy through the business plan described above.

Progress against causes of concern


At the time of our first revisit we found that the service had prioritised work on this cause of concern. We were satisfied that the service had made sufficient progress against most of the recommendations. Since then, it has published its strategy for prevention (protection and response). This clearly sets out the service’s priorities for prevention and its risk-based prevention strategy, ranging from specialist support for the most vulnerable people in the community to general fire safety information for low-risk groups.

We are satisfied that the service has now addressed all the recommendations in relation to this cause of concern, which is now discharged.


On our first revisit to the service, we found that the service had identified 33,000 regulated commercial premises in its area. It has since scored these premises based on risk factors and identified 825 of the highest-risk premises that it intends to audit over three years.

The service started this audit programme in April 2022. But we found that it wasn’t making enough progress with the audits. Its target for the year 2022/23 is 250 audits, but only 58 of the 90 audits completed at the time of our revisit were high-risk premises. We would have expected the service to have completed half of its target for the year.

We found that the service still didn’t have enough qualified staff to carry out audits on high-risk premises. The service told us it expected more staff to become qualified next year, which will mean that it can audit more premises. It is confident that it will be able to complete its three-year audit programme. We look forward to seeing the progress the service has made at our next inspection.

We also found that the service hadn’t put in place any other measures to mitigate risks when it can’t audit high-risk premises within the timescales it has set. But it does have plans in place to work with businesses to provide them with more information and support.

During the second revisit we saw evidence of premises that had been audited and found not to meet the service’s high-risk criteria. The risk scores weren’t adjusted following the audit so the service can’t be sure that its records of high-risk premises are up to date.

We also reviewed progress the service had made with its management of risk information. We are pleased to see that the service is on track with its procurement of a new system due to be implemented in July 2023. However, until then the problems we identified in the way the service manages risk information remain. These problems are contributing to the service being unable to properly resource its risk-based inspection programme.

The service has made some progress to develop its risk-based inspection programme and identify its highest-risk premises, but it still can’t properly resource this. And it still isn’t doing enough to make sure it keeps its risk-based inspection programme up to date. The service has shown a clear commitment to addressing the recommendations and is confident it will be able to make the improvements needed. We look forward to seeing the progress the service has made at our next scheduled inspection in 2023.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

When we carried out our first revisit to the service, we found it had made some early but limited progress with the recommendations in the cause of concern.

The service recognises that its previous approach to promoting EDI disengaged staff. It has listened to their feedback and adopted a different approach, which staff are beginning to talk more positively about. The service needs to make sure its new approach achieves the changes that it needs to make. The service is taking action to restore trust with staff by acting on and tackling inappropriate behaviour.

The service has carried out a culture review, but some staff we spoke to weren’t aware of this work. The service should make sure that it communicates and promotes this work to staff positively. Staff were positive about the Core Code of Ethics, which the service has introduced.

Supervisory managers told us that they didn’t feel equipped to promote and improve EDI. The service has launched a leadership programme for all managers. We look forward to seeing how this helps to develop their confidence.

The staff we spoke to told us that they felt included in the workplace. And they told us that the leaders in the service were open to feedback and challenge from staff. But some staff said that when they gave feedback to leaders, they didn’t get a response.

The service still needs to improve the way it communicates to make sure it reaches all staff. The service recognises this and is developing a digital engagement strategy to help better understand how staff want to be communicated with. Some staff still don’t understand why the service collects data on ethnicity, why this is important and what the service will do with it.


The inspection team were pleased to see that the service had continued to make progress to address the causes of concern. The service has taken steps to identify its highest-risk premises and develop a risk-based inspection programme. But implementing this has been slow and the service still doesn’t have enough resources to deliver it. And there is still more work to do before the service can be assured it has a resourced and prioritised risk-based inspection programme.

The service has recognised that its previous approach to EDI was ineffective and is taking steps to change this. It still has more work to do, and we look forward to seeing further progress when we next inspect the service.

We are satisfied the service has made the improvements that were needed in prevention and so we consider that cause of concern to be discharged. We will, however, review this work at our next inspection.

We will continue to monitor progress against the remaining two causes of concern through updates from the service and data returns. When we next inspect the service in 2023, we will further assess progress against the recommendations.

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Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service: Causes of concern revisit letter